Things get so weird at the atomic scale, that the rules of classical physics governing the objects we can see and touch break down. Particles can occupy two places at once or connect across vast distances, conditions known as superposition and entanglement or what Albert Einstein dramatically described as “spooky action at a distance!”
Conventional computers solve one problem at a time, but Quantum computers -- by virtue of working at the atomic scale -- can solve multiple problems at the same time, as if, in parallel universes. That kind of Quantum Supremacy has the potential to revolutionise entire industries. It's not just their speed, Quantum computers can solve the kind of complex problems that regular computers are really bad at solving. They're more human-like in their problem solving approach, and that makes them better able to complement human tasks.
Quantum computing and quantum information are two of the fastest growing and most exciting developing fields in the technology world. The possibilities of using the non-local behavior of quantum mechanics to factor integers in random polynomial time have also added to this new interest. The key lies in identifying a collection of problems in quantum computing and quantum information together with their detailed niche solutions, which will prove to be invaluable because there is likely to be quantum supremacy over classical computing only in niche areas.
So what are the key problems and solutions for Quantum computing and Quantum information theory to address? Whilst scientists and engineers definitely still have more technical challenges to work out before we have fully-functioning Quantum computers, yet Quantum technologies 2.0 based programmable machines could herald radical changes for humanity's future lifestyle as a species, to name a few significant quantum computing applications:
1. Develop more effective drugs — By mapping amino acids, for example, or analysing DNA-sequencing data, bio-medical scientists and doctors will discover and design superior drug-based treatments. A quantum computer would be able to map out trillions of molecular combinations and quickly identify the ones that would most likely work, significantly cutting down the cost and the time of drug development. Right now, many drugs don't make it to market because, for example, a small subset of people react particularly badly to it. So we usually kill that drug even though it might be helpful for some people. With personalised gene analysis and better drug knowledge we could predict these bad interactions in advance, creating the right type of filtered medical treatments and drug dosages even for existing drugs. Quantum computational simulations and models will help determine how diseases develop and evolve including pandemics and cancers providing advance warning for preventive action.
2. Reduce weather and climate related deaths — Precision forecasting will give people more time to take cover. Even with cutting edge instruments that analyse temperature and pressure, there are too many possible ways a given weather pattern can manifest itself, and current weather forecasting is an educated guess at best. Quantum computing could analyse all that data at once and give us a better idea of when and where bad weather will strike. We would have advanced notice of major storms like hurricanes and the extra preparatory time could help save lives in the short term. Quantum computers could help build better climate models that could give us more insight into how humans are influencing the environment amongst other factors. These models are what we build our estimates of future warming on, and help us determine what steps need to be taken now to prevent disasters later. Knowing more about how alternative climate scenarios will play out can only help us in the medium to long term.
3. Relax, cut back on travel time safely — No more traffic jams and flight delay nightmares plus safer cars and airplanes — Sophisticated analysis of traffic patterns in the air and on the ground will forestall bottlenecks and snarl-ups. Quantum computers could streamline both air traffic and ground-based traffic control because they are so good at quickly calculating the optimal route. A quantum computer could calculate the length of all the possible routes at the same time and arrive at the optimal route much faster taking present conditions into account — these are the exact kinds of calculations needed for directing airplanes or analysing traffic to make informed decisions in real time. In order to help automobiles drive themselves safely, Google is using a Quantum computer to design software that can distinguish cars from landmarks as well as both fixed and moving obstacles. Lockheed Martin is utilising its Quantum computing to test jet software and flight simulators that are currently too complex for classical computerst to factor in all the variables simultaneously.
4. Machine learning and automation — Machine learning is one of the most interesting things going on in computer science today. Artificial Intelligence 2.0 and useful AI have really revolutionised the way a lot of things are done at present. Like humans, quantum computers can learn from experience. They can self correct. For example, a quantum computer could actually modify the code of a computer program that keeps messing up in the real world and in real time. The machine learning of quantum computers could help us do a lot of things much faster and much more efficiently, and continued improvement of the functioning of quantum computers by quantum computers could lead to things like semi-automatic vehicles and other advanced forms of artificial intelligence.
5. Discover distant planets — Quantum computing is able to analyse the vast amount of data collected by telescopes and seek out Earth-like planets. For example, astronomers have now discovered nearly 2,000 confirmed planets outside our solar system using the Kepler space telescope and need to find mechanisms to speed up the process of finding Earth-like planets.
The most important concepts and topics for Quantum computing to outperform classical computing include a deeper understanding and leveraging of:
a. Quantum gates and quantum circuits;
b. Quantum entanglement;
c. Quantum teleportation;
d. Bell states and Bell inequality;
e. Schmidt decomposition;
f. Quantum Fourier transforms;
g. Magic gate;
h. Von Neumann entropy;
i. Quantum cryptography;
j. Quantum error correction;
h. Coherent states;
i. Squeezed states;
j. POVM or Positive-Operator Valued Measure measurement;
h. Beam splitter; and
i. Kerr Hamilton operator.
The Quantum computing revolution, when it comes, could yet rock the world, and that too in a very good way!